Following a sixth consecutive year as regional champions, the Belmont University Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team competed last week at the SIFE USA National Exposition in Minneapolis, finishing in the Top 8 this year following last year’s national championship victory. In one of the largest collegiate competitions in the country, SIFE teams from more than 400 campuses presented their service projects to panels of corporate judges to determine which teams have had the most impact improving people’s lives. The mission of SIFE is “To bring together the top leaders of today and tomorrow to create a better, more sustainable world through the positive power of business.”
Dr. Pat Raines, dean of Belmont’s College of Business Administration, said, “I am very proud of our students’ performance in this year’s SIFE National Exposition, especially after their top three finish at the SIFE World Cup last October. It is extremely difficult to maintain this level of recognition, but our students remain focused and really take ownership of their projects. Opportunities to be involved in organizations like SIFE support our mission to prepare entrepreneurial, ethical and socially responsible future business leaders as our students are encouraged to spearhead and manage various service projects, while developing problem solving, team work and communication skills.”
Dr. John Gonas, associate professor of finance, serves as a Sam Walton Fellow responsible for advising Belmont’s SIFE students. Instructor Cate Loes and Assistant Professor Jason Stahl also serve the team as Sam Walton Fellows. Gonas said, “Belmont SIFE continues to produce servant leaders that are focused on blessing the non-profit community with business models that lead to sustainable social change. Our continued top-20 placement in the SIFE National Exposition for the past five years confirms our students’ strong work ethic, high intellect and dedication to excellence.”
During the 2010-11 academic year, the Belmont University SIFE Team worked on 14 projects on campus and in the community addressing a wide range of issues. The 42 members of Belmont SIFE spent more than 2,600 volunteer hours this past year developing and completing their projects, which included work with:
• FashionABLE: In October 2010, fashionABLE, a fashion-accessory social entrepreneurship venture, was created to help women who have been exploited due to the effects of poverty in Ethiopia. In partnership with Ellita-Women at Risk (EWAR), an Ethiopian organization that provides counseling and job skills training to former prostitutes, fashionABLE is creating a sustainable business with consistent employment for these women.
• Linking, Educating, and Advancing Families [LEAF]: As part of the Nashville Mayor’s Poverty Reduction Initiative, Belmont SIFE has partnered with Metro Nashville Public Schools and its ESL teachers to teach math, reading and other basic market economic survival skills to immigrant children and their families.
• 147 Million Orphans: A T-shirt and apparel social entrepreneurship venture started by two mothers in 2009, to support their own nine adoptions, to bring awareness to the orphan crisis, financially assist orphanages, and fund overseas adoptions.
• Spring Back: A collaborative partnership that engages local mattress retailers to help reduce landfill waste. Belmont SIFE students created an entrepreneurial venture that employs previously homeless veterans and other homeless men as they work toward self-sufficiency while keeping mattresses from landfills.
SIFE is an international non-profit organization that works with leaders in business and higher education to mobilize university students to make a difference in their communities while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders. Active on more than 1,500 university campuses in 39 countries, SIFE Teams create economic opportunities in their communities by organizing outreach projects that focus on market economics, entrepreneurship, success skills, environmental sustainability, business ethics and financial literacy.